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A Hypothesis of the Evolution of Art from Play
Vol. 7, No. 3 (Summer, 1974), pp. 211-217
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1572893
Page Count: 7
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Observers of human behaviour have noticed similarities between art and play, e.g. both involve imagination, surprise, non-predictability and self-reward, and are considered biologically non-functional. Studies of these similarities led earlier philosophers and psychologists to construct hypotheses that attempted to explain art as arising from play during an individual's life span (that is to say, ontogenetically). Recent students of the subject agree, however, that these 'play theories' of art are inadequate to deal fully with the varieties of artistic activity. The author examines similarities between art (including both artistic creation and aesthetic experience) and play, and offers a hypothesis that concerns the origins of artistic activity using ethological concepts. The relationship between play and art is considered phylogenetically, i.e. art is said to have originated as a kind of play, gradually over millenia acquiring its own independence and individuality. In order for an evolutionary characteristic to be selected for, it must have adaptive value for the species and the author's reason for believing that art has this property is that it enhances both man's sociality and his self-assertion. She concludes with her conviction that art is a fundamental and necessary feature of human life.
Leonardo © 1974 Leonardo